stackable self-watering planters in the home

In conversation with Brooke Morrow: An expert’s plant recommendations for every level of gardener

We are super excited to be back with the latest installment in our Marly expert series!

Returning with her esteemed horticultural knowledge is Brooke Morrow

As a reminder, Brooke is one of our resident plant care advisors here at Marly. She is a Conservation Research Technician at The Institute of Applied Ecology and all-round gardening guru. 

Currently out in the field on a conservation trip in Northern California, Brooke has written in from the wilderness with an update to her first advice column, published last month. 

Last time out, Brooke walked us through tips on using self-watering planters like Marly, the best plants for stacking, advice on planting trees, and options to choose if you’re looking for a splash of color. 

This time around, she’s running us through her recommendations for the plants to tackle at every stage of your gardening journey, from easy beginner choices to the flora fit for fully green thumbed experts. 

Let’s dive in!

(We're offering 15% off any order with code MARLY15 to get your garden started)


marly garden wall of planters

Easy plants to get things started - The best plants for beginner gardeners

Marly: Hey Brooke, it’s great to chat with you again! How’s life?

Brooke: Life is good! I’m currently working on the absolute favorite part of my job which is conducting research in the great outdoors. We’re monitoring endangered plant species this spring and the habitat restoration work has got me thinking about how each of us as individuals can do our bit to grow and protect our own plants back at home. 

Marly: Awesome! Well, as you know, the Marly community is made up of gardeners at every level and a lot of people are just beginning their journey. What would you recommend these started out growing in their Marly planters?

Brooke: If you’re an absolute newbie I’ve got the perfect list for you. My only warning is that having early success with these guys will only get you growing more - don’t say I didn’t warn you!

  • Pothos - The pothos is an ideal plant for beginners due to its low maintenance requirements and forgiving nature. Extremely versatile, its trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves are an easy touch of green for any space, thriving in various light conditions and tolerating irregular watering.
    Beyond its aesthetic appeal, pothos serves as an efficient air purifier, removing toxins from indoor air, helping you sleep and breathe easy!
  • Philodendron - With its glossy, heart-shaped leaves, the Philodendron is an excellent choice for beginners due to its simplicity and adaptability. Thriving in low to medium light conditions, these plants require infrequent watering, making them resilient to busy or forgetful owners!
    With straightforward propagation methods like stem cuttings, beginners can easily expand their indoor greenery.
  • Snake Plant - A super popular plant, you’ve probably seen the snake plant’s striking upright leaves in your friend’s apartment already.
    Thriving in low light conditions and requiring minimal watering, it's highly tolerant of neglect.
    These guys look great in any setting so get creative with your interior design safe in the knowledge that the snake plant will fit right in.

  • Monstera - Monstera are a trendy yet easy-to-care-for plant. Thriving in bright, indirect light and requiring moderate watering, Monstera plants are relatively low-maintenance. With its rapid growth rate, it quickly fills indoor spaces with lush green foliage, adding a tropical vibe to the room, and a quick route to feeling accomplished as a gardener!

  • ZZ Plant - With its glossy, waxy leaves and low-maintenance nature, the ZZ Plant is a perfect choice for beginners. They thrive in low to moderate light conditions and require minimal watering.
    They are pest resistant, robust, purify air, and grow slowly meaning they won’t take over your space. What’s not to love!?

  • Spider Plant: Spider plants, on the other hand, are fast growers, so beginners who are looking for quick results can enjoy seeing this plant thrive and flourish. Spider plants produce offshoots called spiderettes that can be easily propagated, providing beginners with an opportunity to learn about plant cultivation.


marly garden planters and plants



Taking things to the next level - The best plants for intermediate gardeners

Marly: Amazing! I think we’ve grown pretty much every one of the plants on the beginner list and they remain the cornerstones of our collection. 

Brooke: Me too! You can always fall back on the classics. 

Marly: So, what about plant owners wanting to take things to the next level?

Brooke: Okay, so your baby Monstera is shooting off new leaves and your pothos are vining up a storm. Now you’re ready to take the next steps to grow bigger, greener and slightly more challenging plants. 

Here are some options that will add diversity and beauty to your plant collection: 

  • Begonias - Begonias offer a wide range of species and cultivars, some of which may have more specific care requirements that challenge intermediate gardeners.
    For instance, tuberous begonias may need precise watering and fertilization schedules to bloom prolifically. Intermediate gardeners might enjoy experimenting with different begonia hybrids or species, each with unique foliage patterns, colors, and growth habits.
    Begonias will test your skills but are super rewarding so don’t be afraid of diving in!

  • Fittonias - Also known as nerve plants, Fittonias are prized for their striking foliage patterns and vibrant colors.
    Fittonias thrive in high humidity environments, so slightly more experienced gardeners may experiment with different methods to increase humidity levels, such as misting or using a humidity tray.

  • Calatheas - Calatheas are known for their unique leaf movements, making them a favorite of mine and lots of my friends!
    Calatheas are sensitive to water quality and temperature fluctuations, so pay close attention to watering practices and avoid using harsh tap water.

  • Tradescantias - These guys are instantly recognizable for their vibrant foliage and trailing growth habit. While they're relatively low-maintenance, the challenge comes in controlling their vigorous growth and preventing them from becoming invasive.
    Regular pruning and propagation can help manage the plant and encourage bushier, more compact growth habits.

  • Rubber Plant - Rubber plants are popular for their glossy, rubbery leaves and easy-going nature. However, they can present challenges for gardeners due to their sensitivity to environmental changes and susceptibility to pests like spider mites.
    Maintaining optimal growing conditions, including consistent watering, proper drainage, and adequate light levels, to prevent issues like leaf drop or yellowing, requires extra attention, so stay vigilant! 

Marly: Very cool. We know the Grower Club is always up for a challenge so this is perfect.

Brooke: The more time you can spend with your plants, learning about their likes and dislikes, their temperaments and needs, the better. You’ll have them thriving in no time! 

Marly: Excellent advice. Plus, connecting with your plants and nature is great for your health. 

Brooke: Absolutely! And when you’re really feeling zen, you can start thinking about moving to the next stage in your journey. Expert level!


marly planters in home garden

The best plants for expert gardeners

Marly: OK, now that we’ve built up our jungle of beginner and intermediate level plants, what comes next for the most confident gardeners among us?

Brooke: Here are a few plants that are notoriously difficult and deceptively challenging to grow, but oh so rewarding! 

  • Crotons - Renowned for their vibrant, multicolored foliage, crotons are a favorite among experienced gardeners who appreciate the challenge of maintaining their ornate appearance.
    These plants require precise care, including consistent watering, high humidity levels, and ample sunlight to promote vivid leaf colors and prevent leaf drop.

  • Alocasias - Alocasias, also known as elephant ears, have large, dramatic leaves and striking patterns. These plants have specific care requirements, including well-draining soil, and bright, indirect light.
    Alocasias can be propagated through division or offsets, providing opportunities to experiment with different propagation methods and cultivate new varieties. Additionally, experienced gardeners may enjoy exploring the diverse range of Alocasia species and hybrids available, each with its unique characteristics and growth habits.

  • Fiddle Leaf Fig - Experienced gardeners will enjoy the challenge of troubleshooting common issues like leaf browning or fungal infections to maintain the health and vitality of their beautiful violin-shaped leaves.
    Additionally, you can really experiment with different pruning techniques to shape this sculptural plant and encourage growth.

  • Prayer Plant - Prayer plants, known for their unique leaf movements and intricate foliage patterns, are another excellent choice. Prayer plants are delicate and can be an interesting plant to propagate through division or leaf cuttings.

  • Zebra Plant - Zebra plants are ideal for experienced gardeners looking to add a touch of drama to their indoor jungle. These plants require precise care, including bright, indirect light, consistent watering, and well-draining soil to thrive, but can really become a standout component of your home garden.
    Get these guys growing well and you’ll be the envy of your friends!

Marly: Wow - we can’t wait to get stuck in and see what we can achieve!

Brooke: Remember, the main thing is to enjoy yourself. Building your home garden is a wonderful thing, so take your time, connect with your plants as much as you can, and relish the journey. Your garden is unique, so whichever plants you choose, just remember that you are creating something beautiful.

Marly: Thank you Brooke, and stay safe out there in the wild!

Brooke: Thanks guys, see you next time!


Marly planters in outside garden




Whatever your level, Marly takes the guessing out of growing.

Our stackable, self-watering planters are the perfect companion for every step of your horticultural journey. 

They’re easy to use, beautiful to look at, and allow plants to self-regulate their watering.

Check out our full product range and use code MARLY15 at checkout to kick-start your path to gardening greatness!

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